A FIREFIGHTER who has been the officer in charge of Wilton Fire Station for 28 years has been honoured for his “devotion to duty, commitment, loyalty and professionalism” over four decades.

Watch Manager Jim Twomey was presented with a fire officer’s certificate of appreciation by Wiltshire’s Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones at a ceremony held last Tuesday.

Mr Twomey joined the service as a retained firefighter in Wilton in 1973.

As a self-employed taxi driver, he has juggled his business with fire calls, training and running the station, often at a loss to his income.

“During this time, Jim has shown outstanding commitment to the service,” said his citation.

“Wilton has become a beacon station, with active recruitment, an enthusiastic crew, and many examples of community activity and support. This is in no small part to Jim’s leadership and dedication.

“In recognition of his devotion to duty, commitment, loyalty and professionalism over the past 40 years, WM Jim Twomey is presented with a chief fire officer’s certificate of appreciation.”

There was also a commendation for Control firefighter Tracey Chappell, who lives in Quidhampton.

Mrs Chappell was on duty in the fire control room at Potterne earlier this year when she took a 999 call from a man threatening to throw himself off a bridge.

She was recognised for her calm professionalism, with commendations also going to four Swindon firefighters who attended at the scene.

Her citation said: “Despite having had no training to deal with potential suicides, Tracey did all she could to calm the caller and maintained contact even when the phone had been abandoned.”

Fire fighters were sent to the scene and were the first emergency service to arrive. Watch manager Greg Izon climbed over the safety barrier to talk to the man, but he attempted to jump without warning, and another firefighter, Steve Bell, grabbed hold of him and prevented him from falling.

Joined by their colleagues Crew Manager Bob Waller and firefighter Andy Smith, they pulled the man back over the barrier and on to the bridge.

“Without the calm professionalism of FFC Chappell and WM Izon, and the quick reactions of FF Bell, CM Waller and FF Smith, it is highly likely that this incident would have ended in tragedy,” added Mr Routh-Jones.